Moving for Love

I don’t usually post twice in a day, but the lines in Ada Limón’s poem above are so beautiful and it is raining so hard that I couldn’t bear to witness alone.

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Abandoned Men

800px-Abandoned_horse_barn_in_autumn_fall
Brooklyn Copeland is a young, prolific poet who has published individual poems in venues like Poetry Magazine and The New York Times. She also has several chapbooks and  full length poetry collections available.

As readily available as her work is online to peruse, I found it hard to pin down. “Self-conscious” is definitely a word that came to mind. “Intentional” is another. But, then I also wanted to say “evocative” and “effective.”

I considered “skilled” but then read a few poems again and changed my mind. “Simple” is a word that comes up again and again. “Simple” is good, as it is in Copeland’s case. But “skilled” is no doubt a better word.

Perhaps the poems below is skilled. It’s hard to tell. But, it’s most certainly evocative and effective. One thing is for sure: it is short and ends well, as if the poem itself was built to present the last five lines. The lines deserve it.

Prayer’s End
Nature remains
            faithful by
                         natural light,
only. Immeasurable,
            invisible in the wind.
                         Visible when
blades
            and branches bend.
                         The wind
speaks fluent
            rain. Despite it
                         the rain
falls straight. And beyond it
abandoned barns
                         defend
            abandoned
men.

Photo Credit: C.E. Price

 

This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Zeteo Journal.

What Doesn’t Change

trains
Written by Arab-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye , the poem below is launched in a childish tone, but closes in a distinctly mature voice. For me, this combination of child/adult voices is what makes the poem interesting, what makes it work. Otherwise, the piece stands the risk of being another doe-eyed “barrio” poem.
But it is not. It is a rather masterful poem representative of Nye’s highly respected and abundant body of work.
Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change
Roselva says the only thing that doesn’t change
is train tracks. She’s sure of it.
The train changes, or the weeds that grow up spidery
by the side, but not the tracks.
I’ve watched one for three years, she says,
and it doesn’t curve, doesn’t break, doesn’t grow.

 

Peter isn’t sure. He saw an abandoned track
near Sabinas, Mexico, and says a track without a train
is a changed track. The metal wasn’t shiny anymore.
The wood was split and some of the ties were gone.

 

Every Tuesday on Morales Street
butchers crack the necks of a hundred hens.
The widow in the tilted house
spices her soup with cinnamon.
Ask her what doesn’t change.

 

Stars explode.
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.

 

The train whistle still wails its ancient sound
but when it goes away, shrinking back
from the walls of the brain,
it takes something different with it every time.

No One Wants Jane Austen

books

Every time I come across a remarkable literary journal, I get surprised. Another one? There are already so many good ones, it seems. Could the rumor that no one reads poetry anymore be just that, a rumor?

Let’s hope so. In the meantime, I leave you with a poem by Joanna Schroeder, which appeared in issue #60 of the remarkable “Pudding Magazine.

 

Splitting Up the Books

When the marriage is over,
no one wants Jane Austen.

Happy endings taped up
in a cardboard box

to be given away
to others, sight unseen.

When a marriage is over
the poetry books are cold

leftovers, no one wants to claim
as read or to be read

on summer bed sheets.
O love, be fed with apples while you may.

When a marriage is over
it seems frivolous to fight

over comic books. Small
paneled stories of right

and wrong, with easy villains.
Even the good guys wear masks.

When a marriage is over
no one wants the science fiction

futures so dazzling
with probable improbabilities

it is embarrassing
how much you wanted to believe.

A Pot of Bones

poetry

 

Natasha Trethewey is one of those rare poets that everybody seems to like, much in spite of her massive commercial success. Massive, that is, in terms of poetic commercial success, which is timid at best.

Nevertheless, Trethewey won the Pulitzer Prize for her book Native Guard (2006)written about an all-black regiment that fought in the Civil War. Then she was named U.S. Poet Laureate. Twice.

Trethewey’s work deals principally with race in America. Since her parents were a mixed-race couple living in Mississippi in the Sixties, she has rich material from which to draw.

Above is a piece that exemplifies Trethewey’s clean, linear, heart-breaking verse.  Beyond is Hong Kong’s ambitious skyline.

Here is the full text of the poem:

What is Evidence

Not the fleeting bruises she’d cover
with make-up, a dark patch like the imprint
of a scope she’d pressed her eye too close to,
looking for a way out, nor the quiver
in the voice she’d steady, leaning
into a pot of bones on the stove. Not
the teeth she wore in place of her own, or
the official document—its seal
and smeared signature—fading already,
the edges wearing. Not the tiny marker
with its dates, her name, abstract as history.
Only the landscape of her body—splintered
clavicle, pierced temporal—her thin bones
settling a bit each day, the way all things do.

The Light On

 

Because anger lets you will its volume

Encourages itself upon you

It is easiest to rage

Make the morning a landscape of stone

 

It takes informed surrender to kill the light

He left on through the night

And sit in the unhurried darkness

Of the sun on its way up

 

Although, in retrospect, all decisions

Are informed